Now the Facebook CEO says he realized that connecting people online is not enough. The company’s revised mission states the following: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Zuckerberg believes the new feature, Facebook Groups, are the ideal way to do it, and it has already amassed a billion users worldwide.
“We used to have a sense that if we could just do those things, then that would make a lot of the things in the world better by themselves,” Zuckerberg revealed in an interview with CNN Tech. “But now we realize that we need to do more too. It’s important to give people a voice, to get a diversity of opinions out there, but on top of that, you also need to do this work of building common ground so that way we can all move forward together.”
The first official mission overhaul sounds like a pretentious one, especially compared to the old “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” But it’s certainly not unrealistic, and Zuckerberg is going at it full steam ahead.
A Facebook Group may not have the power to reverse the course of a war or stop a hurricane, and most groups are casual – Zuckerberg himself is in puli groups, where people share pictures of pet dogs. But there are what he calls “meaningful” groups, which in total have around 100 million members. These are to become part of the new FB support structure. Creating these virtual communities is important because real world memberships in communities are in a steady decline, whether it’s churches or unions.
Of course, bringing people together based on shared interests can have dire consequences if the interest is ultimately racism, bullying and leftist or right-wing radicalization and extremism.
Facebook has started using artificial intelligence to identify users or groups trying to engage in terrorist recruiting, and Zuckerberg says they’ll do more over time as the artificial intelligence gets better. But he does not want Facebook to be in the business of policing content. And this is where the online activists come in. Many believe that Facebook’s mission is really just a cover for what is actually going to be mass censorship on an algorithm level, within the system, not even controlled by humans at the end of the day.